BY KRISSI HUMBARD — Updated on May 5. Applause erupted in the council chambers the night of Tuesday, May 2, as staff announced a record number of residents turned out to vote for the city council election. As the unofficial results were read, candidates and their supporters cheered — and breathed a sigh of relief.
Elections Coordinator Nicola Konigkramer announced the record-breaking number: 1,575, or 15 percent of registered voters. Greta Mosher, chair of the Board of Election Supervisors, read the unofficial results.
Also garnering big cheers was the winner of the Ward 1 race. Three candidates were in the running for the seat. Residents came out in force in support of Bart Lawrence, and he was re-elected with 466 votes. The Ward 1 campaign was intense — even ugly at times. The accusations of questionable conduct or character, allegations of bullying, and claims of false accusations and misinformation that surrounded this ward’s campaign had many residents on edge. Lawrence, clearly relieved and happy with the results, said it felt like a long campaign, “with lots of ups and downs.”
“I feel fortunate to live in such a wonderful community,” Lawrence said. “And, I feel energized to continue to represent the well-being of my neighbors.”
Talib Karim, who also ran in 2015, came in second with 168 votes, and Ian Herron earned 50 votes.
“Clearly, there are some lessons from this election,” Karim wrote in a posting to his supporters. He congratulated Lawrence and all the winners, adding, “I look forward to working with you all to make our city even better, because by working together … we all win together.”
The Ward 2 race was uncontested, but Councilmember Robert Croslin received 352 votes. There were 20 write-in votes. The councilmember was all smiles when the result was announced.
Looking to the new council, he said, “I think it’s a good thing. I think we can have positive things happen. I also don’t think it will be as contentious as it has been in the past.”
The race for Ward 3 had three female contenders. Councilmember Patrick Paschall did not seek re-election. Carrianna Suiter, who set the record this year for campaign contributions, won with 138 votes. Candidate Ayanna Shivers earned 85 votes and Vinni Anandham received 19 votes.
Suiter was giddy after the results were announced. “I am so excited for the opportunity to serve my community, and I am honored to have earned the trust and support of so many neighbors and ward residents,” Suiter said. “I’m really looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on behalf of Ward 3.”
Suiter thanked her fellow candidates, saying, “it was truly wonderful to have been a part of this race with Vinni and Ayanna. I am proud to have run alongside two passionate and dedicated women who continued to impress me at every stage.”
Paschall, who endorsed Suiter, said he was “really happy” with the results. “I think we heard a clear voice from the City of Hyattsville that we want to continue to be a progressive city and do progressive things and make sure we are fiscally responsible as we do it.”
“I am incredibly proud of the work that we’ve done the last four years,” Paschall said. “As I step down from my role on the council I see a city that is posed to be a leader in our region.”
In Ward 4, 106 residents cast their votes for Councilmember Edouard Haba. His challenger Shirley Ann Bender received 16 votes.
Haba said he was “feeling good, encouraged and energized” after the results and said he looks forward to working with the rest of the council. But, he called the referendum results, which he said showed a resounding number of residents agreed with his opinion that the size of the council should not change, “the biggest win for me tonight.”
The race in Ward 5 also had three contenders. Erica Spell won with 78 votes, Ben Zeitler got 51 votes and Derrika Durant received 4 votes.
“I am incredibly thrilled,” Spell said, smiling bright. “This is not just a win for me, but for the all the residents of Ward 5. Yesterday, we turned the page starting a new chapter and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Mayor Candace Hollingsworth, who was a vocal supporter of Lawrence, said she feels great about the election results. “In a couple of instances residents were in the position to choose between at least two qualified candidates — and that’s the best position!”
She continued, “I am looking forward to seeing the ideas and initiatives that will come from the new councilmembers and am also eager to see how the energy of the remaining (or re-elected) councilmembers shifts as a result of the dynamic.”
Noting that there were some residents who felt unheard or unhappy with the current council, Hollingsworth said, “I’m most looking forward to seeing how we approach the issues and concerns arising from this election season. In particular, I expect to work on ensuring that all members of the community feel heard and know that the door is always open for constructive input.”
The advisory, non-binding referendum on composition of council results were as follows:
Should the City Council consider reducing the number of Councilmembers?
Yes: 609 Votes
No: 947 Votes
If the Council considers this reduction, how should the reduction in Councilmembers occur?
(a) Reduce the number of Councilmembers to one per ward, and keep the current five wards.
Yes: 581 Votes
No: 768 Votes
(b) Reduce the number of Councilmembers to one per ward, and reduce the number of wards.
Yes: 121 Votes
No: 1,186 Votes
(c) Reduce the number of Councilmembers to one per ward, and increase the number of wards.
Yes: 403 Votes
No: 942 Votes
(d) Reduce the number of wards and keep two Councilmembers per ward.
Yes: 358 Votes
No: 986 Votes
In addition to the above, should there be one or more Councilmembers elected at large by all the city voters?